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I’ve just completed an assignment for Getaway on Cape Malay food (watch out for the article in the July 2012 issue of the magazine) and, after doing several Cape Malay cooking classes, I learned to make my own roti dough using this roti recipe,  and to roll my own rotis to accompany spicy Cape Malay curries. Roti-making does take a bit of work but I promise it’s worth it – just imagine flaky, buttery rotis next to a steaming bowl of curry.

Cape Malay rotis


Ingredients for Faldela Tolker’s Cape Malay rotis

Makes 12 to 15 rotis

  • 750 ml flour
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml salt
  • 50 ml sunflower oil
  • Water
  • 250 g softened butter
  • Sunflower oil for frying


Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add oil and rub in with your fingertips until you form fine breadcrumbs. Add water gradually while mixing it in, until a soft elastic dough forms. Cover and leave in a warm spot for a few minutes.

Then take bits of the dough to form tennis-ball-sized balls and roll each one out on a floured surface to form a disc the size of a dinner plate. Spread a thin layer of butter on the discs. Cut a slit three quarters up the discs and then take flaps on either side of the slit and roll them up to form a long thin sausage. Roll up each end of the sausage to form an s-shaped roll and then fold one side on top of the other.

Put the buns in the freezer for 30 minutes. Roll out each bun the size of a dinner plate again and fry in oil until bubbles form, and then turn over onto the other side until bubble form again (around two minutes on either side). Take the roti out of the pan and clap it with your hands to make it flaky. Serve with curry.


Faldela Tolker offers Cape Malay cooking classes as part of the andulela Experience Cape Malay Cooking Safari. Faldela is hilarious, entertaining and warm – and peppers her cooking lessons with such quotes as ‘There are two ways to fold a samoosa: my way or the highway.’ In addition to the cooking class, on the andulela Experience Cape Malay Cooking Safari, you visit a spice shop and the Bo-Kaap Museum.

The half-day tour costs R660 a person. Tel 021 790 2592, email,


17 Responses to “Cape Malay roti recipe”

  1. Barry

    The procedure is impossible to understand ! From the words, …”Cut a slit three quarters up the discs …” onwards just does not make sense.

    Please clarify. Thanks you.

  2. rey

    this is a very complicated recipe for a simple roti.
    sounds like something you combust in a science lab or woodwork class

  3. ash

    The recipe work fine! I think the confusion is with the slits lol but if read it u will grasp it. You must slit each round roti 3 quartes of the way meaning u slit top and bottom the same. Now this will allow you to roll one half of the roti up to the slit. Then you flip it around to allow you to roll the otherside once you done u have the S shape. All you do now is take the bottom side of this S roll and fold it to the top side then you done ready for fridge.

  4. L.J.W

    Just made this last night and followed recipe to the T and it did not come out good. It was dense and doughy. Oh well !

  5. marc

    My mom has been making the cape malay rotis for as long as i can remember and it comes out perfect. light and fluffy. as for the slit i do not understand neither have i seen my mom doing the slit. but she does roll it up and make an S shape. she does not put it in the freezer, she fries it in butter as soon as shes done rolling out the dough.

  6. Kare

    I am a cape malay born and bred and I make flaky roti all the time with the same ingredients listed in this recipe. The slit part of the recipe is even confusing for me. Roll the balls into a circle, spread the circle with butter. Roll it up from the bottom until you have a sausage. Take the sausage and fold it into a ball and place it in the freezer.

  7. natifella777

    This is a Malay roti. It is more flaky and procedurely it is similar to methods used to make puff pastry which requires folding of the dough with pats of butter in between to form the “leaves” of dough (similar to samurai blade forging, haha). Hence it is more involved. Indian rotis are more simplistic to make and dense in texture but delicious nonetheless.

    • David

      nutifella777 you nailed it! I been searching a long time for a Roti I can use as a puff pastry (time consuming) this recipe does it. Layering the butter in folds IS puff style. cutting is misleading.

  8. Karen

    Hi, does any one know where I can buy a Cape Malay Recipe book? Their food is so full of color and its welcoming food for hosting guests. Please let me know, my email address is (
    Thank you in advance!

  9. Jack

    Sarah Graham’s TV Episode 6 featured Faldela preparing both Rooti and Samoosa. The Samoosa disc was slit not the Rooti. Instructions above appears to have combined the two processes?


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